Friday, 13 July 2012

Impact of cutting Housing Benefit for under 25s in Camden

David Cameron's plan to cut Housing benefit for under-25s in Camden could see nearly 1000 people forced to move from the borough, according to statistics we have analysed at Camden council.  

The plans, first mooted in the Mail on Sunday, cast a shadow over a group of people already subject to changes in housing support.

From January 2012, anyone under 35 can only claim housing benefit on a shared accommodation rate to help with their rent (rather than being able to claim for self-contained one-bedroom accommodation).

Fair enough in an age of austerity, some might say - but the idea put about at the time, that these housing changes would have a downwards effect on rents is not evidenced.  Moreover, people under 35 are now in direct competition with families looking for cheaper 'Housing Benefit' properties, creating more - not less demand locally.   

Politicians can't resist cheap talk when they turn to welfare and Cameron uses benefits in Camden and inner London as a straw man.  

It is true that benefits are high, but surely this is also down to the unregulated nature of the private rented sector, leading some to call this what it really is - 'landlord benefit'?    

Nor are all these benefits going to the workless, as is often claimed.  In Camden many of these recipients would be getting partial benefit - i.e. they are in work but need help because of high cost-of-living and rents.

Interestingly, the Housing Allowance changes seem to impact young people in council housing more than any other group.

This suggests that changes will make life more expensive for, say, young people who have succeeded to tenancies from their parents or people who are very vulnerable and have found housing.

For young people who have lost parents, but remain in the area, the changes may well uproot them from their neighbourhood, for vulnerable people getting settled after trauma, this is another unwelcome change.

The various impacts of these changes have been discussed by homelessness charities and others - as has the social cleansing aspect, something we feel strongly about in Camden.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. While I am not insensitive to the problem that it is for someone to find their home is too expensive, I do think that the "Landlord benefit" aspect you refer to is key in this issue. I mean that for the whole of London context rather something specific to Camden.

    If any rent price demanded is paid either by the tenant or by the tenant + taxpayer, what is the chance the situation will ever change and the price trend will reverse?

    If some sort of rent control is put in place, there is an administrative and legal overhead that will need to be enforced and paid for by the taxpayer. I am not too comfortable with that, as there is too much room for further rental & subrental complexities, along with potential for fraud and corruption.

    On the other hand, if the government does go ahead with removing this rent subsidy, especially at this time of recession, I expect that people will be forced to move to some place cheaper. However, it will also force the landlord to finally have to make an effort to keep their property earning some sort of rent.

    At some point there should be a real price set by the market rather than having everyone helping paying for thousands of expensive rents in exchange for little benefit to the common good.